Kelly Bastone: Camping at Highline State Park |

Kelly Bastone: Camping at Highline State Park

Bastone family and friends camping at Highline State Park.

I want to live at Highline State Park.

Actually, I don’t — I prefer Steamboat, and anyway, the crowds that assemble on Highline’s beachside lawn are rough, to put it nicely — but the weekend we just spent camping there with several other families was so awesome that I’d like to re-create the communal existence here. Here’s why:

5. There’s always someone to make your morning coffee or tea. Emerging from my tent one morning, my friend Gillian told me, “There’s a pot of coffee all ready to go over there.” It tasted like water in the desert. And as I sipped my French press brew, I simmered some water for my husband’s tea. “Good morning!” I chirped as he stumbled out of our tent and grasped the handle of his steaming mug.

4. Some kid is always dirtier than my kid. Knowing this evaporates any guilt I might feel about my child’s uncombed hair, her mosquito bites, the weave of band-aids that makes her leg look like papier-mache.

3. Kids form packs. This might sound alarming, as if your offspring suddenly joined the wolves. But in fact it’s ideal, because children are more self-sufficient when they run in gangs. Hours passed without a whiny “mamma!” to interrupt me from the serious business of knitting and lolling in the hammock.

2. The pack mentality works at bedtime, too. Simone may not have been thrilled to call an end to the day’s fun, but seeing all the other kids marching off to their tents squelched any argument.

1. Conversation with good friends eases all burdens. Whether you’re washing camp dishes, building the fire, or consoling a grumpy urchin, the company of pals lightens the perceived load. And, of course, friends transform pleasant moments into extraordinary ones: Sipping some wine around a campfire is lovely, but mix in the laughter of friends, and you’ve got an hour of happiness that counteracts a week’s worth of strife.

Kelly Bastone moved to Steamboat in 2002 because she loved the Yampa Valley’s easy-access skiing, bike trails and fishing holes. So when she got pregnant with her daughter in 2010, she didn’t abandon those pursuits — she just figured out ways to include her. She and her husband, Ben, are big fans of scheduling baby-sitters for powder mornings or epic bike rides because they believe that fulfilled people make the best parents! But thanks to all the kid-friendly outdoor gear available nowadays, they can bring Simone with them on hikes, backcountry ski tours, hut trips, bike rides, fishing sessions and campouts. Kelly’s blog is about her family and all the ways they exploit Steamboat’s awesomeness. When not parenting, Kelly a freelance journalist for such publications as “Sunset,” “Runner’s World,” “Bicycling” and “National Parks,” and a contributing editor for “Backpacker” and Vail/Beaver Creek magazines and a contributing writer for “5280: The Denver Magazine.”

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